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SUPCO: Person May Not Be Charged With Attempted Felony Murder

Ohio Supreme Court

The Ohio Supreme Court has settled the question of whether a person be charged with unintentionally trying to commit an intentional murder. 

Ohio Public Radio's Karen Kasler explains.

28 year old Bobby Nolan of Portage County was convicted of several charges in the 2011 shooting of a man in the thigh after a night of drinking and drugs. But Nolan’s attorney argued the charge of attempted felony murder should be dismissed, because a person has to die to result in a charge of felony murder.  Presenting the state’s argument before the Ohio Supreme Court in June, Assistant Portage County prosecutor Pamela Holder said she felt the jury was sending a message to Nolan.

“This is a case where, in close proximity, you introduced a gun into a fist fight, and you aimed at him. You aimed at his leg and but for bad aim, this victim would be dead. And that is something more than felonious assault. That is attempted felony murder.”

During the arguments, Justice Judi French expressed confusion about the charge. 
“How could a defendant both commit murder unintentionally but also purposefully attempt to commit murder?”

And the court’s unanimous opinion answered that question – saying it is impossible to purposely or knowingly cause an unintended death. Nolan is currently in prison for other charges from that shooting.